On last week's NHL Live! I heard a term that rung a bell. Someone called themselves an “Original Six Elitist”. It never dawned on me that there was such a thing. After listening to what it was and how people respond, it seems that term applies to me.
Being brought up in a Detroit-area hockey family in the hey day of the Production Line (Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Sid Abel) I remember what's it was like when the NHL had its original expansion and subsequent franchise additions. It struck me as being curious. “What do we need more teams for?” was my original thought. I snubbed my nose on these “new teams” since they didn't have the history of the Original 6. (Original 6, in case you don't know, are: Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers).
I remember what it's like to hear radio announcing that is nothing but play-by-play with no other incessant talking. There were no color announcers. It was pure entertainment. Hearing a mumbled, staticy-voice talking at a fast pace with an occasional “SCOOOORE!!” is just priceless. It still brings a smile to my face and a chuckle to my belly. (That is why I get so upset over the nonstop and unnecessary talking during televised hockey games. It's senseless and infuriating. It totally robs the sport of its entertainment and enjoyment value).
I know about what pride there is in a city that has seen Stanley Cup championships dating back to 1936. It's fun seeing memorabilia from that time period. It's fun watching cars ride around with Wings flags. It's fun seeing the Spirit of Detroit statue being draped in a Wings jersey. Just fun.
It's fun watching televised games from the 1950's. Only an Original 6 team and fan base can say that. Even the televised games consisted of play-by-play announcing. That's the way I remember a televised hockey game of an Original 6 team.
It's fun seeing banners dating back to the 1930's at Joe Louis Arena. Only an Original 6 team would have such banners.
I remember how often a city going through trials and tribulations would come together for the simple pleasure of watching and/or rooting for a hockey team and its game. Race didn't matter, income stature didn't matter, the love of hockey mattered. Not only does the team unite the City of Detroit, it unites the entire State of Michigan. Sports can do that, anyways. It's just nice to see it in a city once known as the “Murder capital of the world”.
I remember the 40-year drought when the Wings were awful. When I hear people gripe today about how “spoiled” or “accustomed to winning” the Wings are, I know the person does not understand the history of the franchise. Another Original 6 fan would.
The team logo has stayed the same since inception. That's a biggie. There's a profound pride in that. No concern about what the team will look like year to year. We know the Wings logo and colors will be the same.
Whatever team is playing, I find myself rooting for the one who's an Original 6. If that's elitist, so be it. The only time there is a concern with that is when there are conflicting teams playing. For instance, the recent Eastern Conference Semi-Finals between the Philadelphia Flyers V Boston Bruins, was one such game. Boston is an Original 6, yet Philly is a comeback team. Both are strong pulling points.
I was living in Florida when the Tampa Lightning started their franchise. “Hockey in Florida? in hot weather? How stupid..” was my original thought. My tune changed after going to a few games. There's nothing like a live hockey game. :)
The Original 6 are the foundation of the NHL. It's so much fun to see any of them advance to the Stanley Cup Championship. :)
I'm not a fan of labels, but seeing I may fall into the category of an “Original 6 Elitist”, I'm proud of it.
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